Programme Director, Ms Mahashane Myakayaka,
His Excellency Ambassador Håkan Juholt of the Kingdom of Sweden,
Mr Reinhard Reinartz, President of Mechanical Cutting, Sandvik,
Cllr Fanyana Nkosi, Acting Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality,
Sandvik Directors and staff,
Representatives from business and labour,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you at the opening of this facility.
As a company that has been operating in the South African market for more than 70 years, Sandvik has established a firm and reliable presence in this country.
Thanks to its substantial regional head office in Kempton Park, it manages operations in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola and Madagascar.
This places Sandvik in a perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
At the third South Africa Investment Conference in November 2020, Sandvik made a commitment to invest R350 million to expand its remanufacturing and warehouse facility here in Kempton Park.
Today we see the product of that investment.
In the State of the Nation Address, which I delivered in February this year, I said that government is hard at work to create the conditions that will enable businesses – both big and small – to emerge, to grow, to access new markets, to create new products and to hire more employees.
The establishment of this facility is testament to that commitment.
We have heard that the Khomanani manufacturing site is one of Sandvik’s biggest and most advanced facilities globally, consolidating operations from five separate sites and accommodating 550 employees.
This will allow Sandvik to shift certain manufacturing duties from elsewhere in the world to this facility.
This investment therefore extends beyond the financial.
It is an investment in skills, technologies and capabilities.
It is an investment in people and productivity.
The investment by Sandvik in local manufacturing capacity is an important vote of confidence in South Africa and its mining sector.
With industrialisation and manufacturing being essential pillars of South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, it is gratifying to see this commitment turned into reality here in Gauteng.
Discussions with Sandvik to reopen their manufacturing facility in South Africa began in 2015 at the 9th Session of the South Africa-Sweden Binational Commission in Stockholm.
This stands as testament to the firm relations between our two countries.
It is a relationship that is rooted in solidarity and cooperation, and that continues to find expression in investment, commerce and trade.
I have enjoyed the tour of the facility.
It was good to interact with staff and in particular to see women represented in their numbers in the workforce.
It was also good to hear that localisation is a cornerstone of your operations here.
This supports our aim to build domestic production capacity to supply local and foreign markets, to support broader economic development and to create more jobs.
The expansion of local production will make our economy more inclusive and create more opportunities for new entrants into the industrial sector.
It is five years since Sandvik decided to establish its own local manufacturing facility for the complete production of the new low profile loader, Sandvik LH115L.
I was very pleased to hear that this product is entirely produced in South Africa for the rest of the African market.
Mining has historically been the bedrock of the South African economy and given our vast mineral reserves, mining will continue to play a central role in our economy for many decades to come.
Greater investment in mining, localisation and beneficiation all contribute to extending mine life, to increasing mining exports, to skills development and to the creation of employment.
The mining capital goods industry has developed alongside the mining sector to supply mining and mineral processing equipment to enhance productivity and safety, lower costs and improve efficiencies.
The capital equipment industry is critical to the South African economy.
The focus on capital equipment will contribute to a new age of mechanisation in our mining industry.
Contrary to the view that mechanisation will result in significant job losses in the mining industry, research shows it will instead generate additional employment opportunities.
The convergence between the information technology and machinery and equipment industries is the basis for smart manufacturing and smart societies.
These are vital constituents of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The mining machinery and equipment sector also has significant linkages into other parts of the economy.
The companies supplying equipment to the mining industry have important backward linkages to major assembly suppliers, sub-assembly and parts suppliers, specialist component suppliers and raw material suppliers.
A growing local capital goods manufacturing sector will have a positive impact on other sectors of the economy, like agriculture and construction, and further strengthen sectors such as banking, hospitality and tourism.
Increasing local production will contribute significantly to the revival of South Africa’s manufacturing industry.
I am quite certain that your customers in the mining sector, some of whom are here today, are as grateful as we are for your continued investment in South Africa.
Our economy, like many across the world, is struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, through such investments, through the expansion of our productive capacity, through the implementation of far-reaching economic reforms and through our efforts to reduce the cost of business, we are laying a firm foundation for growth and employment.
This local manufacturing facility represents an exciting new chapter in Sandvik’s presence in our country and on our continent.
It underscores your desire to continue to play a part in South Africa’s skills development, knowledge transfer and local manufacturing capabilities.
Allow me to conclude by once again thanking Sandvik for its steadfast commitment to South Africa and its well-founded confidence in the future of African mining.
As the name of this facility beckons, I agree, Ayi Khomanani.
I thank you.